Gone fishin’

After 6 years and more than 500 posts I’m taking a break.

It’s time for me to recharge the batteries, repot the plant, hit the reset button or whatever cliche floats your boat.

For the next several months I’m putting the kibosh on taking on new consulting gigs and generally saying “no” to anything that can be deemed “corporate.”

I’ve begun looking at everything I do–and own–and asking whether it truly gives me joy. It’s leading to a lot of decluttering. I feel lighter already.

I’ve also begun tapping into the power of ‘no’ and the power of ‘now.’ I feel more than a wee bit liberated.

On the other hand, I will be saying ‘yes’ to more travel, to expanding my knowledge of the crazy world we live in, to cultivating maitri and to advancing my work in the social impact space.

It’s fun and energizing. It’s also a little bit scary. Of course that is the nature of anything really worth doing.

So fair warning: if you feel like I’m ignoring you it’s pretty likely to be true. But it’s not personal. Trust me, it will be fine.

Some people that I’ve told of my plans have looked at me like a confused german shepherd. To them I say, well, maybe I’m crazy. But after all, it’s not about you.

Others have said “I’m so jealous, I wish I could do that.” To them I say, well, what’s stopping you?

Anyway, thanks for giving me the gift of your attention. It means a lot.

See you in another life brothers and sisters.


It’s easy to vote ‘no’

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chodron

It’s rarely the case that organizations utterly lack new ideas or things to try. They just get voted down most of the time.

Many of us when confronted with change are quick to find fault with moving ahead. It might not work. We could look foolish. It just makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll get fired. Best to just say ‘no.’

Most of us are filled with “should’s.” I should finish that novel or start that business. I should speak up more. I should finally make that trip. I should deal with the unfinished business with my family. And on and on. But our fear keeps us stuck and ‘no’ is all too often the seemingly safe choice.

Voting ‘yes’ more often isn’t the path of least resistance and it is far from a guarantee of success. Not everyone will get it, few may have your back and others might shun you entirely.

Stay the course. Be vulnerable. Chase remarkable.

Going out on a limb is where we’re needed, where we’re called to be, where the magic happens.

And your vote counts.


The exits are clearly marked

Maybe we’re in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that has become highly dysfunctional but we’re too afraid to leave for fear of being alone or hurting the other person’s feelings.

Maybe we’re in a job where personal growth has long since ceased or our contributions are not well appreciated, yet the thought of making a major career shift virtually paralyzes us.

Maybe we’re a long-time member of a group that has drifted from its original purpose or lost its ability to make things happen, but we feel an obligation to try to fix it even when we know it’s neither possible, nor the best use of our scarce time and energy.

Maybe we get behind a leader “for the good of the cause” but come to see that the behaviors that rub us the wrong way–or we feel compelled to disavow completely–are revealed to be his deeply held beliefs and character defects.

Our heart usually tell us it’s time to get out way before our brain does its more careful and deliberate work.

When we let go of the past, the need to be right, the worry about what others might think and the pathological urge to fix everything, our burden is lightened and our path becomes far more clear.

The exits are clearly marked. The challenge is to muster up the courage to walk out the door.





Gravity always wins

There are few forces more powerful than gravity.

And gravity never takes a day off. Or a minute for that matter. For all practical purposes it’s ever-present, strong and unrelenting. 

Most of us have learned not to fight gravity for just this reason. From time to time we may want it to be different, but it’s not going to be. So there’s absolutely no point in getting upset about it, or worrying about it or strategizing on how to make it different. We accept it, work with it and get on with our lives never giving it much thought.

Of course gravity is hardly the only thing in our lives that’s not going to change despite our hopes, dreams, protestations, fears, manipulations, cogent arguments or ardent scheming.

The hard part is seeing that, accepting it and making a different choice.

yves klein

So we’re all gorilla behaviorists now?

My guess is you’ve heard about Harambe, the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was killed in an effort to save a child that had managed to get into his habitat. This tragic story has led to a firestorm of criticism heaped upon the zoo for alleged poor facility design and intense shaming of–and an online petition against–the child’s mother for supposedly being a horrible parent. There has also been great vitriol spewed at the response team for seemingly being too trigger happy and not opting for a tranquilizer instead.

The one thing I would hope we can agree on is that compassion should be extended to all that had to go through this terrible situation.

I would also hope that we would recognize that we aren’t gorilla behaviorists and our opinions about what Harambe was likely to do simply aren’t worth listening to. Few of us have any educated idea on what a 17 year old male Western Lowland Gorilla’s response to being shot with a tranquilizer might be. A similarly miniscule number of those opining vociferously on social media have ever been trained in emergency response, much less found themselves in an adrenaline-fueled, literally life and death, situation where decisions have to be made with limited information, virtually instantaneously.

The internet and social media are wonderful things. They give us unprecedented and nearly unlimited access to information. But so often we confuse data and opinions with insight, knowledge or the truth.

Social media gives us all a platform. It’s a powerful platform that can be used to promote knowledge, love, compassion and many other kinds of positive and useful messages. But we’ve all seen how it can be a veritable cesspool of misinformation, distortions, outright lies and hate.

Social media often serves as a billboard of our personal brand–a mirror to our belief system and a lens into that which we worship.

In my case, I’ve certainly been guilty of using it to deal with what the Buddhists sometime refer to as shempa. When my ego needs a boost in some way–or I go to a place of fear or discomfort–I’m easily triggered and I often allow myself to be hooked into needing to demonstrate how smart, funny or cool I am. This can be by engaging in self-righteous behavior, putting others down, showing off those things or activities that would cast me in a flattering or interesting light (look where I am! look what I ate! look at this picture of me with a celebrity) and on and on.

I know this will come us a shock, but I’m not a better person because of the hotel I just stayed in, the car that I drive, the dinner I cooked last night or a selfie I took with a Kardashian. Nobody needs a running commentary of my life on Facebook. I’m going to be just fine if you don’t like something I posted. And, as it turns out, I can’t prove that I have the world’s best friends, partner or siblings, despite my exhortations. Neither can you. Though, just so you know, hyperbole is fantastic, amazing, incredible, high energy and the best thing ever.

The fact is almost none of us are gorilla behaviorists, tort lawyers, vaccine specialists, economists, climate change scientists or experts in foreign policy. It so happens I have opinions on how to stop ISIS, improve the US’s aging infrastructure, reform healthcare and for how Hillary can stop dressing like a communist dictator. And you’d be wise to ignore them. And I’d be wise to keep them to myself.

My point is this. A megaphone is sometimes a very handy thing to have. But just because you own one doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.

A hammer has great utility. But not everything is a nail.

And if self-righteousness or ego-boosting is fueling anything you are about to say or do, stop.

Please stop.





The hardest to learn is the least complicated

Gentle reader, congratulations on your wise choice. It is indeed your good fortune to have chosen to read my blog today for I am about to reveal a short-list of virtually guaranteed ways for you to be successful in both your professional career and your personal life.

Intrigued? I bet.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Steve’s virtually sure-fire ways to be successful in business:

  1. Focus relentlessly on the customer.
  2. Never engage in a price war you can’t win.
  3. Defy the sea of sameness and find your purple cow.
  4. Treat different customers differently.
  5. Reject the cult of busy.
  6. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail better.

Steve’s virtually sure-fire ways to be successful in your personal life:

  1. Accept the things you cannot change.
  2. Live in the now; be present and mindful in all you do.
  3. Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
  4. Don’t take things personally.
  5. Remember the things for which you are grateful.
  6. Live open-heartedly and with compassion.
  7. Embrace vulnerability.

As a reader of this blog you have already revealed yourself to be a person of great intelligence and discernment, so you have likely already concluded that these ideas– collectively and individually–are both true and useful. More importantly, you probably noticed that they are all conceptually rather simple to comprehend.

So why do we struggle to put them into practice?

The first reason is our habits. If you are anything like me, you’ve been been conditioned to strive for perfection, to associate your self-worth with your job, your busyness and your possessions. Perhaps you’ve also been taught that vulnerability is weakness or that you’re not okay unless the people around you are okay or that it is your job to figure things out without the help of others. These are all rather obvious and destructive lies, yet our negative practice has created deep grooves in our psyche. The only antidote is to develop different habits and practice them until new grooves are formed.

The understanding is not the hard part. It’s the un-doing.

The second reason is our choices. I’ve watched myself (and more than a few friends, colleagues and loved ones) decide to stay stuck in the past, fight things I couldn’t change, drink the poison of resentment, bask in the misguided attention of victimhood and generally engage in far too much ego grasping and not enough letting go.

Again the understanding is not the hard part. It’s the acceptance that every day we start clean slated and I (and you my dear friend) get the chance to make a new set of choices. Our task is to choose wisely and to rinse and repeat.

The wolf we feed is the one that wins.


h/t to the Indigo Girls for the title inspiration.

Busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before

Our challenge is not to stay busy. Frenzied, unrelenting activity is far from a guarantee of utility, productivity, purpose or meaning.

Our challenge is not to make sure that nothing on social media slips by unnoticed or without comment or an emoji. I’m fairly certain that you–and the world–are going to be just fine if you are not current on the Kardashians latest activity or fail to “like” your sister’s choice of restaurant.

Our challenge is not to continuously tweak or burnish some fantasized projection of ourselves. The internet has made it easy for us to be our own PR firm; to curate an image of who we want to be, rather than accept who we are; to passively consume rather than creatively produce.

It’s never been easier to stay busy, to buy into the illusion of progress because there is always something new or a bit shinier to capture our attention.

Our challenge, therefore, is to recognize when we fall into the seductive, often unconscious, trap of new day, same old stuff. To recognize the spinning, the distraction, the mere ego gratification.

And with that awareness we then commit to make a different choice.

The wolf that wins is the wolf we feed.